Last year, my friend Alicia and I thought it would be a great idea to go and see Tom Jones, one of Wales’ greatest exports, perform in Doha. It’s all very well and good until we realized the performance (which incidentally was incredible) was outside, on a beach in 40 plus degree temperatures and high humidity.
This is all because I desperately wanted to hear him sing one of my favorite songs, the Green Green Grass of Home. Don’t even get me started on why I like this song, except to say that I should never listen to it when I have been drinking gin.
Wales has given us many things apart from Tom Jones (who incidentally wore a turtleneck and jack for the entire one hour performance in the sweaty bearpit). The list is quite extensive – Dylan Thomas, Roald Dahl, Catherine Zeta Jones and a whole bunch of rugby players. It also gave us my friend Claire, who on a recent visit back to the valleys of her homeland, brought me their other great export – cheese.
Wales has a long history of cheese making. Their cheeses are so good they were once used as part of divorce settlements. Under the laws of Welsh ruler Hywel Dda cheeses that were washed in brine went to the wife and cheeses that were hung up went to the husband.
Claire schlepped me back a range of cheeses and these were among the best. One was an organic blue cheese, creamy, a little salty and just stinky enough. Served with some truffled honey, it was a perfect balance.
The star of the show for me was another organic milk product and the most famous cheese from Wales – Caerphilly.
Caerphilly is a hard, white cheese at originates in the area around the town of Caerphilly although it is now also made in England particularly in the south west and on the English border with Wales. It is rumoured that the cheese was developed over time to provide the coal miners of the area with a convenient way of replenishing the salt lost through hard work over ten hour shifts underground and so was a staple of the diet of the coal-miners.
This organic cow’s milk version was smooth with a slightly sour tang but still mild enough to enjoy. This would make a greta cheese for cheese toasties or even a Rarebit!
Since I started this post with a Tom Jones reference, I will also end it with one. You know you want one…